There’s been a buzz recently in the outer Richmond about a new change at Ocean Beach – no garbage cans.
Recently, all of the garbage cans along the first 1/3 mile of the Ocean Beach promenade, stairwells 1-14, were removed.
An interesting move considering that garbage has always been a problem at Ocean Beach. Visit during any nice weather day and the brown cans posted at each stairwell are filled to the brim and surrounded by runover waste.
The National Park Service, who is responsible for Ocean Beach, thinks the solution is to remove the garbage cans in an effort to re-educate visitors on how to take care of the beach.
“We are working on a couple of experiments that would encourage visitors to pack in & pack out. As well, we are hoping to save staff time and allow them to focus on other high impact areas,” said Dan Collman, National Parks Service representative to a reader who inquired about the change.
Along the stretch of can-less promenade, there are only two signs explaining the lack of receptacles. The signs ask “please be patient with us while we try this out”.
The NPS also has an aesthetic reason for the change in policy.
“Not to mention how nice the historic sea wall looks without trash cans,” Collman wrote in his email.
Trash Still Building Up
So is it working? We headed out to Ocean Beach on Sunday morning to see if people were really packing everything in and out between stairwells 1 and 14.
Nearly every stairwell had some debris nearby, and a few of them had piles of garbage tucked up in the corners.
And further down the beach, where trash cans still exist, the usual overflow was in effect.
NPS Continues to Claim Lack of Resources
The National Park Service has a reputation for complaining about their lack of resources to care for Ocean Beach.
There has been a long brewing controversy over the fires on Ocean Beach, with beach visitors in favor of them and the Park Service not due to the cleanup and people’s inability to follow the rules when having fires.
Originally the NPS proposed banning campfires altogether, but after uproar from the community, is now proposing a revised plan that includes a permit system, seasonal restrictions, and a partnership with SF Rec & Park for maintenance. The public comment period on the new plan closes on November 20.
Rather than address the garbage issue at Ocean Beach with a real solution – like larger garbage cans – the NPS has chosen to throw their hands up and cast blame on beach visitors for the problem.
Reader SierraJeff said it well in a comment earlier this year about the Park Service’s beach fire plan.
“[The NPS is] trying to treat a very heavily visited URBAN park the same way it treats Yosemite back country. The problem with that is that the GGNRA was never intended to be a wilderness, a Yosemite. I think it was a mistake to place all this land under federal control to begin with, but that doesn’t mean we have to roll over just because some D.C. bureaucrat can’t wrap their head around the fact that San Franciscans have the gall of wanting to actually use their parks for a wide variety of recreation.”
The NPS has yet to define what they consider a successful outcome of their garbage-can-free experiment. Is it some waste? No waste? The latter seems completely unrealistic.
Not providing a way for the thousands of daily visitors to the north end of the beach to dispose of their waste is short-sighted and lazy on the part of the NPS.
“If this totally fails, we’ll address it immediately,” NPS spokesman Dan Collman wrote in an email.
What do you think, readers? Is the experiment worth continuing or has it already failed?
A Really Dumb Experiment is Happening Out at Ocean Beach – SFWeekly
In Confusing Bid To Reduce Litter, National Park Service Pulls Ocean Beach Trash Cans – SFist
Park Officials Remove Trash Cans From Ocean Beach To Curb Littering – CBS SF Bay Area
Park Officials Hope Removing Trash Cans Will Help Keep Ocean Beach Clean – NBC Bay Area
To reduce Ocean Beach trash, Park Service removes garbage bins – SFGate